As you well know, the COVID-19 virus and its subsequent pandemic have changed much of how healthcare is treated and looked at in the last year. It has mainly become more a public issue than an individual one, with things like social distancing and masks required in more than a few states and locales.

However, some places, such as several companies, schools, and industries, also require vaccines. Now, obviously, your mind would automatically make you think of the newly created vaccine for COVID-19 itself.

But that’s not the only shot being required.

Some are also requiring things like the flu shot, as Cornell University. According to the school’s newly constructed and revised Student Behavioral Compact, all students must receive a flu shot before returning to campus for the 2021 semester.

As most vaccines go, there is an option to opt-out or refuse the flu shot. After all, according to our constitutional rights, we cannot or should not be forced to do something that goes against our beliefs or values. Neither should we be forced to get a shot that could further put our bodies at risk.  

Therefore, any student with medical or religious reasons for not getting the shot claims an exemption.

But now, there is a new kind of exemption available.

According to the Compact, students who are anything other than Caucasian may choose to refuse the flu shot based on their race alone.

Yep, you read that right – getting the flu shot depends solely on your skin color.

Per the school’s website, “Students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or as a Person of Color (BIPOC) may have personal concerns about fulfilling the Compat requirements based on historical injustices and current events.”

The site goes on to say that some minorities “may have concerns about needing to agree to such requirements” due to “longstanding systematic racism and health inequalities in this country. For example, historically the bodies of Black Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) have been mistreated, and used by people in power, sometimes for profit or medical gain.”

And because of such past mistreatment, “It is understandable that the current Compact requirements may feel suspect or even exploitative to some BIPOC members of the Cornell community.”

Now, I will in no way, shape, or form deny that wrong has been done to certain peoples due to their skin color or heritage. Neither can I say that those “People of Color” weren’t exploited for financial or medical gain.

In this aspect, the school is most certainly correct.

“Indigenous” or Native American peoples, in particular, were known to be treated with such exploits. When the white man arrived, they brought with them their “white medicine” and their “white diseases,” many of which the indigenous peoples of our continent had never experienced.

And the results were catastrophic.

Furthermore, as European settlers continued to move west and crowd the natives into small habitation areas, they were often forced to undergo “treatments” that were made to believe would bring them longer lasting or more effective health. In reality, vast numbers were effectively and unknowingly sterilized.

However, Cornell speaks like this type of treatment is still going on.

Furthermore, the school names today’s political atmosphere and recent events as a reason why some might distrust the flu shot, which has been taken successfully for years now.

The website adds, “Additionally, recent acts of violence against Black people by law enforcement may contribute to feelings of distrust or powerlessness. We know this history and validate the potential concerns it may raise. At the same time, we know that the long-standing social inequalities and health disparities have resulted in COVID-19 disproportionately affecting BIPOC individuals.”

No doubt, this directly references the deaths of those such as George Floyd, who recently died in police altercations.

The question is: what does this have to do with the flu shot?

Whether you believe they are good or bad, police are not forcing or even asking for flu vaccinations. The school is, which as far as diversity among professors and staff personnel goes, is in no way lacking.

Furthermore, it begs the question: How does this help our nation heal and become whole again, as those like Joe Biden insist needs to be done?

The answer is: it doesn’t. If anything, it only widens the divide, teaching distrust and that particular skin color makes you entitled to a specific type of treatment, or in this case, exemption.